*As told by her counselor.
Michelle‘s story is a real-life example of the way in which success looks a lot like hard work, perseverance, team effort, and courage. Michelle first contacted the Women’s Center in 2012. She had been assaulted. Having survived other forms of abuse as a child, she was at a place where most would have simply given up. But Michelle, a mother of four, could not allow herself to do that. She worked with the Women’s Center’s counselor, case manager, the learning center coordinator, play care staff, the GED tutors as well as others at the center. Her spirit, inner strength and ability to accept the help and support of others helped her reach a goal which was very important to her – her education.
Over the course of many months, Michelle put forth great personal effort towards her independence and education. She worked full time at a restaurant to support herself and her family. At the same time, she realized that in order to increase her income, she also needed to increase her education. So, on her nights off, or when she had some extra time, she would come to the shelter where GED classes were offered by volunteer tutors in the Learning Resource Center. Some nights she would bring her kids and they would stay in play care while she studied for hours, in preparation for the difficult exam. It took her many nights of hard work and perseverance to come to class when she was tired or not quite feeling up to it.
Finally, on July 29th, 30th, and 31st, Michelle rallied her courage, and went to take the GED at HCC. She knew that the exam would be difficult for anyone, but she kept her head high and pushed forward for the three day exam. One of her GED tutors personally drove her to the campus to help calm her nervousness. The next few weeks were very anxious for Michelle as she waited for the test results. Her tutors and all those who had supported her were anxious too. However, it wasn’t long before the phone calls and texts spread quickly between those who had supported her – Michelle had called excitedly to say that she had passed!
A small graduation party was held in the Learning Resource Center a few weeks later. It was a modest get together, yet the mood was extravagant. The staff decorated the room where she had studied, and a cake was offered which read, “Congratulations, Michelle!” Her counselor, case manager, and her tutors were there to share in the recognition of her success. Michelle made it a point to bring her children to the get together to show them that through hard work and sacrifice, success is attainable and something to be celebrated. She could not hold back the tears when her picture was taken in a borrowed graduation robe that a staff member had donated for the event. Her daughter said, “Don’t cry Mommy.” She replied, “It’s OK. They are tears of happiness.”
Michelle brought to the party not only her letter with her passing GED test results, but also her acceptance letter from Everest Institute where she would begin her program of study to become a medical assistant beginning August 22nd. Congratulations, Michelle! One good success leads to another.